OK, so I have a radical idea about unit stacks...

By on December 26, 2013 12:41:40 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


Join Date 03/2009

Hey y'all!

First off, I hope you all are having an awesome holiday.

Something that has always bugged me about Elemental is that there isn't all that much differentiation between individuals and units.  Sure, this has gotten better with the traits trees, but I still have that nagging feeling that units and heroes are pretty much interchangeable in a stack.

In Elemental and GalCiv, stack size is handled via logistics themed techs.  This certainly is one approach, but I have an alternate idea...

A concept that I've seen used in at least one boardgame is the concept of a command rating/max stack size based on the ability of the command unit. 

To 'port' this concept, essentially, each hero or Sov would have an associated command rating.  This would be the maximum number of units that could be stacked with the Sov or hero.  Such ratings would NOT stack, i.e. only the highest command rating would be used for any given stack, regardless of the number of heroes in the stack.

Armies/groups by themselves would either have no command rating, or a small one, so that say no more than 3 armies could be stacked in the absence of a Hero or Sov.

A 'beginning' hero might start with say a command rating of 4 (3 other units plus the hero).  Sov's might start with a rating/max stack size of 5.  Either way, this rating would be increased via either traits or level breaks (i.e. + 1 Command every 3 levels), or a traits with level requirements.

Cities could have their own 'command rating', based on city size (i.e. a Level 5 city would have, say a command rating of 8, when picking defenders, while a level 1 City might only have a rating of 4).  If a hero is stationed in a city, the higher rating (city versus hero) could be used, or perhaps a 'command bonus' of +1 is added to the higher rating (so a level 5 city would have a 9 rating), to reflect the hero taking charge of the city defenders.

The 'minimum stack size' of 3 for leaderless armies could of course be higher (say 4 or 5), but you get the point of the concept.

While on the surface this might not seem like a big difference (the tech tree already does this to a point), this would encourage having heroes 'leading' stacks, hence adding to their importance.  If a hero is killed in a battle, the stack would then 'break down' to appropriate stack sizes, so keeping your hero alive would be a little more important.

This would also give significance to heroes that are stationed in cities, as they would increase the number of defenders available for defense of the city.

Also, if a set of Traits is used to increase this rating, you might have some heroes that are 'command specialists', while others focus on other disciplines/have lower ratings.  Summoners might have an associated 'Summoning Rating', which would dictate the maximum number of Summons they could field at any given time.  The Summoning Rating would be in addition to a Summoner's command rating, but of course, the Summoner might have to choose between increasing his Summoning Rating or his Command Rating, as well as all of the other traits, when traits are chosen.

This would also tend to 'cap' the 'stacks of doom' to the number of Heroes at your disposal.  You couldn't make a stack of doom just because.  Also, this would encourage Heroes to 'battle each other' with their stacks, thus adding to the lore factor/epic feel of the game.

The downside, of course, is that leaderless armies would be at a disadvantage against armies with a leader at their head, due to their smaller maximum size.  But I see this is a plus, in that you wouldn't want to send out army stacks out willy nilly against your foes.  Instead, you'd have to plan your attacks, putting your 'generals' to use in your campaigns, and having to choose where to 'focus' your power/locate your generals/heroes.  In particular, engaging in attacks/sieges against cities would pretty much require a hero to lead your stack.


I was about to try to take a crack at this via a mod for E:LH, but stack size is determined 'globally' for each Empire, not individually, so I can't think of an easy way to do this via a mod.  Nonetheless, I do think that this idea has merit, hence I felt the need to share.

Well, that's my idea in a nutshell!

Locked Post 9 Replies +1 Karma
Search this post
Subscription Options

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
December 26, 2013 2:09:07 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Uh one problem, if a hero is killed in battle but the army wins. Hero will stay in army with 1 hp left.


But if Hero is killed in battle and the army suffers a defeat, the whole army will get killed and routed, no breaking down to smaller stacks going on. And then Hero will be teleported to nearest city you have.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
December 26, 2013 2:28:46 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Ericridge,

Uh one problem, if a hero is killed in battle but the army wins. Hero will stay in army with 1 hp left.


But if Hero is killed in battle and the army suffers a defeat, the whole army will get killed and routed, no breaking down to smaller stacks going on. And then Hero will be teleported to nearest city you have.


You make a valid point.  There are several ways to handle that.  Hero teleports out of stack/to nearest city if he is killed, regardless of whether the stack wins or not.  Or, the hero is still incapacitated for a number of rounds, and remains with the stack - stack may still choose to move on without the incapacitated hero, at a reduced stack size of course, or perhaps the hero's stack may still move at a reduced rate (1) until the hero heals.  Or, if you are using a 'heroes can get killed permanently' option/mod, well there you go.

Again, the merits of such a suggestion is to make heroes more significant, differentiate heroes from units a bit more, limit the numbers of 'stacks of doom', and reduce the number of large stacks overall a bit in the mid/late game.  The game is Elemental: Legendary Heroes, after all!

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
December 26, 2013 8:26:28 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums
I, too, have seen the command function in several games (even board games back 40 years ago). idea has merit. One suggestion: The heat of battle sometimes beings out leadership. Might a very small possibility for a new leader to emerge in surviving (not necessarily winning) stack upon the conclusion of battle?
Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
December 26, 2013 11:21:29 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It's an interesting idea. My guess is that it won't happen in this game, but perhaps in the next version of FE/LH.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
December 26, 2013 11:30:44 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think that could be a cool idea. For example you might give a General or Warrior class an additional unit to command. Maybe limit an Assassin class to one less unit than normal but give the army an extra move. A Mage (which seems to be the class that most say is the most powerful) could be limited to few units. A Defender might get an additional in a city. Anything that gives more variety is generally a good thing in my book.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
December 26, 2013 12:01:04 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Very cool idea, tjashen.  Probably tricky to mod some aspects but I had one thought to add...


Could you have the heroes auto-cast retinues at the start of combat to get around the current 9 unit per stack cap?  

Then a mage character could really be different than a defender as the mage would summon a host of phantom warriors to shield him.

A defender would summon a phalanx of spearmen units already dug into foxholes/palisades on the front line (the kraxis ability).  

An assassin could auto-summon a demon or two for Empire and for Kingdom assassins a few stalkers at the enemies flank/rear.

Warriors would summon stacks of freerider mercenaries with number and type dependent on level.    

Commanders could get 2 ballista units and 2-3 stacks of archers/crossbowmen.

This would mimic your idea of span of control by giving appropriate troop bonuses without running afoul of the 9 unit cap, especially if you have a few henchmen.

As far as morale penalties... could you mod in loss/gain of initiative if you kill or lose a hero?  +1 to your army, - 1 to theirs if you take out their hero and vice versa if you lose one?  A double move the turn after a hero/sov death?

ps thanks for er... modding the mods section!! 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
December 26, 2013 11:10:08 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

So I broke out Warlords III again early this morning.  Actually, I've been trying to get it to work on my Vista install through various means, but none of the suggestions are working in my case (-wincursor, various apps, various compatability toggles, and I'm not going the virtual machine route for just one game).  So I have to break out my older XP laptop to get my Warlords III goodness.

ANYWAYS, the heroes in Warlords provide a number of bonuses to other armies in their stack.  These range from Morale bonuses, movement bonuses, fear, loyalty, siege, there's a whole bunch.  These bonuses are selected every level via 'skill picks' every level, essential the same idea as Traits in E:LH.  Traits cost 1 or two 'skill points', and at higher levels heroes will get 2-3 skill points every level, but at starting levels they only get 1 skill point (this is how Warlords limits some traits to higher levels, by assigning higher costs to them).

Something I've done on my own already in E:LH is added a movement bonus to the Sov and units stacked with the Sov (not quite the old Organized trait, but along the same lines), so I know that at least some variables can be modded in this fashion.

There are some bonuses provided through traits and spells, but the majority of these tend to focus on the hero, not the army.  It might be cool to introduce more stack related bonuses, and might actually be possible in the current framework.

That being said (for those not familiar with Warlords III), in that game each square has a stacking limit of 8, period, and stacks attack other stacks in adjacent squares, moving into them if they win the battle.  So FYI, that game doesn't have a variable command rating, and hence isn't a suitable example of how that would work.


As suggested above, I did think of working some sort of 'summoning' track for unit stacks (i.e. summoning regular units), where essentially most/all of the logistics stacks tech bonuses were eliminated,with Heroes, as suggested above, adding units to the stack via summoning.  The problem that I see with this is that Summoned creatures usually still count against your command rating, unless they are summoned (temporarily) into battle, hence temporarily boosting stack size for that battle.  While this 'kludge' might work, it wouldn't be a very elegant solution.


I certainly wouldn't mind seeing this implemented via a DLC or in the next iteration, if there were enough people interested in the concept.  Even if stack sizes was left alone, shifting the focus of heroes away from just being awesome to becoming integral parts of armies, via command bonuses to attack/defense/move/etc., would change the flavor of Elemental significantly.  Sure, the 'General/Commander' profession has a few of these, and if augmented should be the 'best' at this, but this would need to cross over into the other classes, perhaps via 'universal' trait picks or whatever.  Also, these bonuses shouldn't be cumulative (only the highest would apply) if multiple heroes are in the stack, as cumulative bonuses would only make stacks of doom worse...


And, perhaps baby steps is the way to go on this.  Instead of having Sov's doubling stack sizes, maybe they just add 1 or two to the army size.  If the idea is experimented with, it obviously would need to be 'balanced' via playtesting, and yet be different enough from the situation as it stands now to make it a compelling change, otherwise it wouldn't be worth the trouble.


This is an interesting discussion, hence why I brought this up.  Ideas are refined through discussion, and I'm sure the Stardock guys are always open to new ideas for the next iteration.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
December 27, 2013 1:11:35 AM from Brad Wardell's Little Tiny Frogs Brad Wardell's Little Tiny Frogs

That's a really interesting idea!

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
December 27, 2013 4:28:18 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This is a very interesting idea but how would AI be prepared for it? AI should lead only armies with heroes. AI heroes should train hard to get command points. AI should train his low level heroes very well. Otherwise AI will be weak. After recruiting a 9 level hero there is a chance to recruit 1 level heroes which may lead very weak armies.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
Stardock Forums v1.0.0.0    #108432  walnut2   Server Load Time: 00:00:00.0000266   Page Render Time: